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I found an interesting post on Inside Facebook today about using Hootsuite to post to Facebook.  Those of you who have been following my blog for a while will know I’m a big fan of Hootsuite (affiliate link).  I rarely use it  for Facebook but  from time to time I need to schedule posts if I’m not going to be around, It’s important to be consistant and Hootsuite scheduling allows me to do this even when I’m with clients or teaching a course.

The disadvantage of using Hootsuite for Facebook according to the article is that Facebook penalises your content as it comes from a third party app.  This means posts sent from it are less likely to appear in the ‘Top News’ feed of Facebook users and may get overlooked.

I do use Hootsuite scheduling far more frequently for Twitter, in fact I use it on a daily basis.  Unlike Facebook there is no penalty for using third party apps to post on Twitter.

Whenever I mention scheduling it usually sparks a debate.  There are advantages and disadvantages but used properly I believe it can help you create an effective social media strategy.

The argument against scheduling

The idea of scheduling makes some people prickle and I think I understand why, social media is social, users value authenticity and interaction, the perception is that if you schedule you don’t care, you are not there to respond.  However I don’t believe we should all be chained to our computers or phones all day long to interact on Twitter.  Scheduling doesn’t preclude interaction, it just guarantees you are able to reach your audience when they are online even if you are not. Those who schedule must respond and interact live too but if you schedule you can do this when it suits you without loosing your audience.  In this respect scheduling tweets actually makes you more social not less so.

The advantages of scheduling

I find scheduling invaluable for many reasons.  As I mentioned in my opening paragraph I can’t always be at my computer, If I’m out of the office I’m still able to share with my followers, I’m able to be consistent.  If I kept my tweeting to when I had computer access I’d be in danger of flooding my followers streams with my tweets.  There is nothing worse than logging into Twitter and seeing it dominated by a string of tweets from a single user.  By spacing my tweets out I’m giving people time to digest them. As the tweeter this means followers are more likely to look at the links I tweet .  The biggest advantage of all is that scheduling is a massive time saver and it helps me avoid those procrastination moments. I spend time in the morning scheduling and then dip in throughout the day to converse and engage.

How to schedule

Before you start scheduling I’d recommend analysing your followers using a tool like Tweriod or CrowdBooster, this will give you a rough guide to when your followers are online and you can create your content calender around this. Use Hootsuite (affiliate link), Buffer or Crowdbooster to schedule your tweets and assign timeslots during the day to check in on your account and read tweets from others.

Do you love or hate the concept of scheduling? I’d love to hear your opinion so please leave a comment below.

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  • http://twitter.com/CazbaaWools Caroline O’Malley

     Sounds like a good idea to keep up to date with your tweeting when you are not able to be at your pc.

  • eVorsprung

    Good article, thanks ! I think, like many things in life, it’s all about balance. There is something ‘synthetic’ about scheduled Tweets which seems to go against the whole essence of Twitter, but there is also a place for it. And today, with the recent discussion on the short half-life of Tweets (see:http://blog.bitly.com/post/9887686919/you-just-shared-a-link-how-long-will-people-pay) it occured to me, scheduling repeat-tweets (which by their nature are somewhat synthetic) may well be a really appropriate use of scheduling.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for that.  You can’t send exact repeat Tweets as Twitter doesn’t allow this, it rejects them but variations of the same tweet will work.  Again you have to balance this, your loyal followers will soon cop on if you constantly tweet the same link.

  • http://www.garrendennylane.ie/blog Lorna

    Yes, I schedule updates occasionally too and find it handy esp for  sending them at a time when my American followers would be up!  However, I never update Facebook from Twitter – hate it! It might be fine for a personal account but I really don’t like to see businesses doing it – you can see it a mile away and it looks lazy in my opinion.

  • http://www.denisefay.com Denise

    I schedule some tweets but I never schedule facebook posts. That’s just a personal choice…and perhaps I never really found out how to do it!! I use Hootsuite for Twitter.

    Scheduling is great but I think the posts or tweets need to sound human. Even if you’re posting a link to your blog or an article you’ve found, by putting in some friendly words, the tweet doesn’t seem scheduled. What I don’t like is those scheduled tweets that are just a quote or a statement…nothing engaging or social about them.

    I think it’s those kind of scheduled tweets that give scheduling a bad name.

  • http://www.sensei-winbeforehand.co.uk/ dawnbaird

    One of the best reasons to schedule, apart from the very obvious one that should not need explained to people (though I totally get why you did) is that some tweets are better sent at certain times:

    - Just before you go into a conference, complete with a hashtag, so your Twitter mates, or others who’d like to meet you, can get you in the break
    - Because of special time-limited offers
    - Notifications of events starting soon
    - News that is better delivered when people are online more often, i.e. breakfast time, during tea-breaks at work, and after dinner at night

    And, the thing is, in down-time (waiting on a bus, meeting, friend, download) you can go in and reply to all those replies that result from your scheduled tweets. From anywhere.

    The thing is, no-one’s to know you’ve scheduled your tweets, as we don’t all respond to replies as soon as they’re sent anyway.

    Denise makes a great point.  Perhaps people are put off scheduled tweets, as some people are just boring and don’t know how to tweet something interesting. This lack of personality or imagination is not down to the facility to schedule.

    I schedule tweets more than I tweet live, and the sky has not fallen in just yet. ;)  It suits me, as I’m not glued to my laptop all day. And even if I am, I don’t always respond instantly.

  • http://www.encouragingexcellence.ie/ Mairéad Kelly

    I schedule 3 to go in every morning from Hootsuite to Facebook, Linked In and Twitter because I am busy at the time I want them to go out at.  I dip in and out most days and engage with people from the responses when I’m back online and disagree with the concept of having to immediately respond to comments.  I recently read that Facebook penalises other apps scheduling and I can see how it has affected the responses I get (or don’t get) but until Facebook bring out a scheduling programme of their own I’ll be sticking with it.

    It’s not going to please everyone and those that don’t like it are free to engage elsewhere if they so wish, we please everybody all of the time.

  • Anonymous

    good points Dawn,  I like the idea of tweeting pre conference, especially for all those without smartphones etc.

  • Anonymous

    Yes I agree. Whether scheduling or not it’s important to add personality to your tweets. The more you add the better the results (in my case at least).

  • Anonymous

    For me it’s not the lazyness, I just don’t like seeing the same stuff everywhere I go. I don’t feel valued as a user if the same content keeps popping up everywhere.

  • Anonymous

    I have a feeling we’ll never see a scheduling app from Facebook.  One tip for scheduling from Hootsuite to Facebook though is to do it seperately from posting to Twitter, especially if you are including a link.  The reason being that if you do this Hootsuite offers you thumbnails and the opportunity to change text within the description in a similar way to doing it directly to Facebook.

    I’m sceptical about the difference in edgerank.  Hootsuite and Facebook just announced deeper integration so you’d imagine it wouldn’t be a big penalty.  I’ve also often noticed posts from Networked Blogs get more views than status updates for example.  It’s all guess work I suppose as Facebook are never going to reveal their exact algorithms.

  • http://www.encouragingexcellence.ie/ Mairéad Kelly

    Pity that, it would be handy.  I used to just send to one site and link them all, but that’s changed it’s easier to post to all three from Hootsuite.  Off to have a look the the sites you mentions as I timed mine from the stats I was getting back from Facebook last year or so.  It will be interesting to see if that has changed.

  • http://crowdbooster.com/ Ricky Yean

    Thanks for writing about us. I agree with your perspective on scheduling. Most of time I schedule things to go out on Crowdbooster’s Twitter feed because we calculate that those are the best times, but then I’m there, with my computer open, ready to engage anyone who finds the articles I share interesting. Some of the use cases for scheduling in the comments are also awesome. Thanks again for shedding light on this activity!

    - Ricky
    CEO, Crowdbooster.com

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Ricky,

    I’m really liking crowdbooster at the moment. Nice work :)

  • http://twitter.com/ericvs Eric VanderSchaaf

    Mairead,

    Our company, http://threepoundlabs.com, is developing some super sweet technology that allows you to smart schedule your posts.  We do all the legwork that every other manual system does and crunch all the variables for you…you hit one button – the “SmartShare” button and our algorithm finds the best time and day for that content.  You set your optimization window (24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours) and it finds the best slot for you.

    Check it out at http://Queued.At – its FREE too!!

    All the best,

    Eric VanderSchaaf
    @ericvs:twitter 

  • http://twitter.com/ericvs Eric VanderSchaaf

    Ricky/hamperlady,

    This article is amazing!

    Your sentences here: 

    “Scheduling doesn’t preclude interaction, it just guarantees you are able to reach your audience when they are online even if you are not….In this respect scheduling tweets actually makes you more social not less so

     This is exactly what our company feels too!  We at http://threepoundlabs.com and http://queued.at are empowering people to be *more* social.  

    Thanks for this great post!

    Eric VanderSchaaf
    @ericvs:twitter